Terrance Heath

Friends Don't Ask Friends to Live With Inequality

Filed By Terrance Heath | April 03, 2013 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Catholic church, Catholics and gays, love the sinner

I’ve got news for Cardinal Timothy Dolan: I don’t want your fucking friendship.

When asked what he would say to a gay couple who told him: “We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we want to raise a family in faith,” Dolan replied (emphasis mine):

Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, “I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.” But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally.

We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody. We’re in the defense of what God has taught us about – about marriage. And it’s one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life. We gotta do better to try to dis – take that away from being anti-anybody. And – and I admit – we haven’t been too good.

“We haven’t been too good”? Cardinal, you’re giving yourself way too much credit, and letting your church off way too easy.

I won’t even go into all the ways that the lack of marriage equality hurts our families. I won’t even go into the many ways your church has harmed gay people, the lengths to which your church has gone to perpetuate that harm and stoke the fired of prejudice against our families, because there’s something very basic that you’re not getting.

Simply put, Cardinal, you can’t do all of the above — and do it unapologetically — and call yourself “welcoming,” because you’re not welcoming me to anything worth having. You’re “welcoming” me to second-best life, which is all that you would allow me, as a “second-best” person.

So long as we remember our place — no sex, no marriage or marriage-like relationship, no family — we’re fine with them. Of course that means understanding that as queers we must accept less and expect less from life than our heterosexual brothers and sisters, because we are less than our heterosexual brothers and sisters. That, in a nutshell is “love the sin, hater the sinner,” which is still pretty much a license to make our lives as close as possible to the hell they say we’re going to, in an attempt to save us from it. Makes sense, no?

That’s all you have to offer me.

What’s always struck me about the whole “ex-gay” thing is that even at their most benevolent, the best they can offer me is this: being gay means that I have to expect less and accept less from life. Being gay means I deserve less from life. I don’t deserve love, I don’t deserve family. It doesn’t even elevate celibacy or “living a chaste life” to the status of a calling, as it might for the priesthood or monastic life. Indeed, a gay man — “chaste” or not — would be barred from both, based on history. At best, it’s a lifelong burden that you didn’t ask for or do anything to acquire. (That’s pretty much led me to believe that any “god” who’d create such a set-up — on the one hand saying that we shouldn’t exist, and continuing to churn us out on the other — would have to be one sick, sadistic son of a bitch.)

… As a confirmed Kinsey six, I’m one of those people the folks mentioned above would rather see “living a chaste life” or one of those people they think should “just be alone.” I’m one of those people that even they are beginning to realize they can’t change, and so they’ll settle for getting us to fit into a box they’re a little more comfortable with. I’m one of those people they’d sentence to roll a rock up a hill only to watch it roll back down again, over and over, like Sisyphus. And they’d have believe I’m better off that way.

One look at my life, one look into my husbands eyes, one look at my son’s smile and I know the “ex-gay” herd has nothing better to offer. Nothing remotely close.

Cardinal, I’ll tell you like I told the new pope. You cannot ask this of me and “welcome” me. You cannot wan’t this for me and be my “friend.” You cannot demand this of me and claim to love me. 

As I wrote at the time, that’s just another version of the same “love the sinner, hate the sin,” bullshit that people employ to purposely inflict needless pain on others and still pretend to themselves that they’re good people. You call it your “doctrines around sexual conduct.” I call it hatred because that’s what it is.

There are times when I wonder if we lose something of ourselves by not calling things what they are. Do we give people a pass they don’t deserve, because they are able to hide behind their religious beliefs? When people gather for the express purpose of denying equality to another group of people, what else can we call it but hate?

From a religious perspective, is it really possible to love someone that you don’t see as an equal? Is it possible to see someone as less than equal without hatred, or without at least contempt? If so, how?

From my perspective, either you see me as equal or you don’t. If you don’t, as far as I’m concerned it amounts to hate – and the actions taken to maintain inequality stem from hatred. I don’t care if it’s for religious reasons. If you can’t see me as equal – and treat me as equal – then you have to see me as (even slightly) less than human. You can’t really see me as equal and still deny me equal treatment. That’s called having your cake and eating it too.

I’ve heard all I can stand of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” My gayness is not what I do. It’s a part of who I am – who I’ve always been. It’s what I feel – have always felt – in my heart. Even if I became celibate (giving up my partner and my son), I would still be the same gay person. I would still feel the same in my heart.

My gayness is not something I do. It’s part of who I am, and what is in my heart. Hate it, and you hate who I am. You hate what is in my heart. You hate me.

It’s that simple. Isn’t it?

Friends, Cardinal, don’t expect friends to live with inequality. Let alone demand it of them. 

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